A Warning To Times New Viking – The Records That Don’t Suck Thing Has Been Done To Death


“When Beth Murphy cheerily chirps, “Let’s do something that hasn’t been done yet,” over Rip It Off’s “Faces On Fire,” you’d figure the statement has to be laden with enough irony to choke half the population of Brooklyn. After all, wouldn’t a band whose members cheekily claim to be Hamish Kilgour, Brix Smith and Mark Ibold on their MySpace — and title a buzzing instrumental “Times New Viking Vs. Yo La Tengo” — be well aware that their melodic lo-fi thing was already done to death a decade ago? “ – Dan Epstein, eMusic.

Memo to Beth, Adam and Jared. From this point onward, your lyrical content will judged as strictly autobiographical. If this has a chilling effect on artistic expression, too fuckin’ bad. Some folks have a lot of reviews to write and we can’t have you taking up too much of their valuable time.

Wells : The Wiggles = Child Abuse

Former NME scribe Steven Wells does some quality blogging for The Guardian, mostly on matters concerning the sporting scene. But with Friday’s entry he turns his attentions to “the greatest threat rock music has ever faced — The Wiggles.”

Today’s kids have no chance. They are being metaphorically drugged, kidnapped and lobotomized by inanely grinning pastel-wearing pantywaists making mock kiddy pop so vacuous it’s terrifying.

Does it matter? Hell yes it matters. Toddlers are a vital pop resource. They have innate taste. Play them Who Let the Dogs Out and they will dance and laugh and clap. Play them Teenage Fanclub and they will scream in agony. Play them the Decembrists and they’ll start banging their heads off the wall. Play them Noah and the Whale and their heads explode. They are canaries in the pop mine, primed to cry and shit themselves at the first whiff of James Blunt.

In response to a recent post on the music blog, reader marckee revealed that when very small he danced and laughed along to Ant Music by Adam and the Ants, indisputably one of the top five albums of the 20th century and further proof of toddlerdom’s pop omniscience.

(If all 20-something male A&R men were sacked and replaced with two-year-olds, we would never have to listen to a crap song ever again.)

But the Wiggles (above) are changing that by destroying the taste of pop’s greatest human resource. By providing kids with a roughage free diet of monodimensional, monocultural, monobraincelled musical rusk-slop, they are turning toddlers from infallible supercritics into brainwashed automatons – future fans of Celine Dion or Phil Collins or Travis or Coldplay or whatever horrors the manufactures of golf-muzak have up their coke’n’snot caked evil wizard sleeves.

Dead Meadow get got.

Every Sunday at midnight, or at least first thing Monday morning, I On-Demand (my verb) the next Wire episode. So, this morning while I’ve been trudging through other concerns, the 2/3 episode has played twice in the background. I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say that McNulty offers his critical take on Dead Meadow. No, let’s just say that Marlo’s people make a buy at a Dead Meadow show. No, let’s just say that Dead Meadow play a secret show at the mission. No, let’s just say that Senator Clay Davis rocks some Dead Meadow in the car. No, let’s just say that I’m more than a little stressed about this Just Farr A Laugh legal problem. For real.

Note To Moz : Don’t Sue Us, We’re Just Watching

“Threatening legal action is routinely used in an attempt to silence legitimate criticism and debate. As noted heterosexual Liberace would have told you, even with all the evidence stacked against you, there’s still an outside possibility that a rogue jury can find in your favour. That knowledge, along with the financial consequences of defeat for a magazine (Jason Donovan effectively killed The Face, ITN did the same to Living Marxism) means that people are able to bully / blackmail publications into submission even when, objectively, they might not have a leg to stand on
.” – Guardian blog commentor SV80, on the NME/Morrissey throwdown that vaguely recalls the last time said publication and performer locked horns on the matter of race (see above).

Little Steven, Savior Of Musical Integreation

“It’s considered inappropriate or even immoral for white musicians to appropriate African-American styles.”

Here’s a headline you might not see on the front of tomorrow’s NY Times Arts & Leisure section :

“Timberlake Dropped :  Appropriation of African-American Styles Said To Be Wildly Unpopular”.

Tim Page Takes A Crack Out Of The Old Escandalo Style-Guide

From the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz :

A Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for The Washington Post has apologized to D.C. Council member Marion Barry for sending an intemperate e-mail to his spokesman.

“It’s the stupidest thing I’ve done in 30 years in journalism,” music critic Tim Page (above) said yesterday. “I hope people won’t judge me on this one explosion.”

Page wrote Barry’s aide, Andre Johnson, last week after receiving an unsolicited press release about the former mayor’s views on Greater Southeast Community Hospital:

“Must we hear about it every time this crack addict attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new — and typically half-witted — political grandstanding? I’d be grateful if you would take me off your mailing list. I cannot think of anything the useless Marion Barry could do that would interest me in the slightest, up to and including overdose.”

Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. called Page’s e-mail “a terrible mistake” and said he has taken “appropriate internal action,” but neither he nor Page would disclose it. Page plans to take a previously scheduled four-month leave starting Jan. 1.

Downie said Page “has nothing to do with our local political coverage, as a music critic. On the other hand, it was sent on Washington Post e-mail, and he represents The Washington Post in everything he does.”

Barry said in an interview that he was “outraged” and “incredulous” at the “despicable” e-mail, “particularly coming from a reporter at a reputable newspaper like The Washington Post, not a rag.” He said the note amounted to “character assassination” at a time when “around the nation, it’s almost open season on black people.”

With all due respect to the former Mayor, if there was a racial component to Page’s message, the Post made no such thing clear to this reader. If Page’s great error was calling an elected official a “crack addict”, perhaps an amended letter would’ve sufficed rather than a formal apology? To wit, Barry’s mere conviction on a cocaine possession charge in 1990 (and prior appearance smoking crack on an FBI surveillance tape) is no way proper justification for calling this respected public servant a crack addict.

However, had Page’s offending passage read “must we hear about it every time this recreational user of crack attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new — and typically half-witted — political grandstanding?”, I’m sure there’d have been far less outcry.

Guardian Scribe’s Hard On For The Young Wayne Coyne

(Alan Rankine – fondly remembered — late at night — by at least one journalist)

“Can a red-blooded hetero with a troglodyte’s penchant for curvy Page 3 ‘stunnas’ also be in love, albeit platonically, with geezers in bands?” asks the Guardian’s Paul Lester. Hey, why the heck not? But where’s the love for King Diamond?

Personally, when it comes to blokes, I like ’em alien and androgynous, weird, skinny and fucked-up. I’ve got one picture of Todd Rundgren sitting cross-legged on a bed at the height of his post-psychedelic whiz-kiddery in 1974 in which he looks so transfixingly translucent and transgenderly divine it makes me die a little inside. He’s my number one heartthrob pin-up, always was, always will be. The fact that he’s a genius is neither here nor there. He takes a good photo. But I’m not the faithful type. I also go ga-ga for Sly Stone circa There’s a Riot Going On, the intelligent but degenerate (good combo, that) Alex Chilton, white Hendrix Randy California, David Cassidy at his pretty peak, the Cheap Trick sex gods, Alan Rankine of Associates when he looked like Rudolph Valentino and Liam Gallagher’s lovechild, the surreally cute Nick Heyward, Michael Jackson just when he went all mutant-extraterrestrial on our ass circa 1984, and Wayne Coyne before he morphed from clean-cut cosmic boy to mature grey-beard.

See, a lot of male musicians have a Beauty Moment, while others sustain it over the distance. Bernard Sumner kept up his adorable lad-naif thing for over a decade. Keef looked better the more drugged-out he got, although there was a turning point when iconic debauchery gave way to dishevelled chic then simply to decrepit. There are categories of shaggability, from northern bit of rough (hi, Ian and Liam) to studio brainiac (Eno, say – come on, Eno in the mid-70s was a fox!). Certain styles give me the horn: the baggy shorts and shaved barnets ensemble of the postpunk/white funk brigade always did it for me.

Shat In The (Linkin Park’s) Van!!

No square inch of scenery left to chew, no square inch of Shatner’s ass to kiss, and no clips of the interview on YouTube yet, but one can enjoy Mike Patton exploring everything that happened in music between The Infectious Grooves and Linkin Park!


ACL 2007 – A Rather Desperate Attempt At Liveblogging

Though I've seen terrific sets thus far by MIA, LCD Soundsystem, Queens of The Stoneage and (most especially) our own Yo La Tengo, I'm happy to reveal a scoop so intense, not even the combined forces of Austinist, the Austin Chronicle or Statesman were on top of it.

When Saturday's headlining White Stripes cancelled on short notice, the promoters insisted there'd be no big name replacement flying in. 

With another 5 hours to go, I'm happy to report they were just trying to throw you off the scent of greatness :



Fair’s Fair, Folks : We Demand That Pitchfork Allow Blaine Thurier To Review ‘Challengers’

The critic-turned-rocker-thing is well documented (Gay Dad, Chrissie Hynde, Metal Mike Saunders, Lester Bangs, Ira Kaplan, Neil Tennant) but rocker-turned-critic-reviewing-their-own-album for Pitchfork? That's a much, much smaller pantheon.

OK, I know it isn't really the same Eric Harvey. But give me some credit for actually remembering Gay Dad in 2007. 

Mark Ibold’s Legacy Besmirched

As luck would have it, one day after former Matador warehouse workhorse Mark Ibold was profiled by New York Magazine, the following item appeared over at Badminton Stamps (link swiped from Baseball Think Factory)

For their "21st century" encore, Sonic Youth was joined by their new touring member, bassist Mark Ibold. You may remember the lovable Ibold from his days with Pavement. Sonic Youth and Pavement. Very impressive. In fact, it may even be the coolest the two band turn known to man. While Ron Wood's tenure in The Faces and The Rolling Stones is impressive, for straight indie cred Jerry Harrison's membership in The Modern Lovers and The Talking Heads has long been considered untouchable. In fact, some have claimed his record was as unbreakable as the baseball home run records of yore. And like the imminent crumbling of the round trip titles held by Ruth and Aaron, there can be only one explanation for Ibold's triumphant challenge to Harrison's glory: steroids. That's right; Mark Ibold, the chubby charmster himself, is doping. We all know how tempting, and accessible, steroids are to bassists just a wee bit past their youthful glory days. These musical warriors thirst for greatness, a thirst that can only be quenched with the succor of sweet, sweet 'roid juice. Plus there's no better way to bulk up your rock and roll credibility than by shooting drugs into your ass.

Ahem. Having loitered in the dressing rooms of both Sonic Youth and Pavement on more than one occasion, I can vouch for Mr. Ibold's All Natural status.  But as far as "coolest two band turn known to man" is concerned, where's the love for the Dustdevils? Free Kitten? Wall Drug?  Much the way Barry Bonds' detractors manage to gloss over his days as arguably the game's best all-around player while a svelte member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, I truly believe Mark is getting a similar raw deal in this instance. 

Annoyance Is In The Ear Of The Annoyed

Much as I hate to call Rolling Stone's readers a bunch of chumps, they and the venerable rock journal have colluded on a poll of "The Twenty Most Annoying Songs".  Suffice to say, I am confident the Matablog's readers have some more interesting choices up their sleeves.

1. Black Eyed Peas,  “My Humps”
2. Los Del Rio, “Macarena”
3. Baha Men, “Who Let The Dogs Out”
4. Celine Dion, “My Heart Will Go On”
5. Nickelback,  “Photograph”
6. Lou Bega, “Mambo No. 5″
7. James Blunt,  “You’re Beautiful”
8. Spice Girls,  “Wannabe”
9. Sisqo,  “The Thong Song”
10. Cher, “Believe”
11. Aqua, “Barbie Girl”
12. Chumbawumba, “Tub Thumper”
13. Rednex, “Cotton-Eyed Joe”
14. Eiffel 65, “Blue”
15. Crash Test Dummies,  “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”
16. Meat Loaf, “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”
17. 'NSYNC,  “Bye, Bye, Bye”
18. Ricky Martin, “Livin’ La Vida Loca”
19. Semisonic, “Closing Time”
20. Wham!, “Wake Me Up Befor
e You Go-Go"

That's it?  No "Safety Dance"?  How about "Keep Your Hands To Yourself"?  "We Didn't Start The Fire"?  And other than a wretched sense of history, how did Stacy Q not make the cut?


Konvicted : Akon Dumped Over Ill-Advised Hump

As you've probably heard, Akon's run afoul of moralists and cell phone companies alike after being captured on video engaged in a vaguely lewd act with a 14 year old. Salon's David Marchese says "I think I'm going to go bang my head against a wall."


Akon's antics were definitely on the gross side, but what did Verizon expect? Did anyone at the company even listen to his album ("Konvicted," which has sold more than 2 million copies) before signing the guy? If they had, they'd have heard hit singles like "Smack That" ("Smack that all on the floor/ smack that till you get sore") and "I Wanna Love You," which, in its unedited version substitutes "love" with a different four-letter word. But the problem isn't that Akon is objectionable — he isn't really, and people who complain about him are the same kind of people who would have tied themselves in knots over Elvis — the problem is that Verizon fired Akon for doing the kind of thing it hired him for. The dude is a star because he has a sexy, streetwise image and an album full of sexy, streetwise songs. Verizon was only too happy to bask in Akon's popularity until he took one sideways step from what he always does (which he's since apologized for) and then it drops him like a hot potato. To suddenly treat him as some sort of moral degenerate is ridiculous. Especially considering the fact that, at this very moment, R. Kelly walks the streets as a free man. Would somebody please think about the children?!

There's also a double standard in play that makes Verizon's foolishness even more annoying. Verizon has maintained its associations with both Keith Urban and Fall Out Boy mainman Pete Wentz — even though the former has a well-documented addiction problem and the latter had pictures of his wee wee (inadvertently) plastered all over the Internet last year. Hmm. Cute white stars have more leeway with their indiscretions than does one born with the name Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thaim.

Publicist Meltdown: “Save To Drafts” Method Strongly Recommended For Future Blog Promotion

oops.jpgNot since Lizzie Grubman turned that valet stand into her personal monster SUV rally have we witnessed such an embarassingly-public-publicist-melt-down as Man Man's publicist's public melt-down over at Philebrity.  We're pretty sure people only go to that blog to remind themselves of which night is free Sparks night at the Khyber, so what's the point?   

Harris On The Death of “Maoist Certainties”

When it comes to rock snobbery, is nothing sacred? Or more to the point, have the tribunals for Aesthetic Crimes been told to go home early on Friday?  The Guardian's John Harris is particuarly miffed that proponents of "towelling headbands and songs called things like Expresso Love" aren't enough to sound the Uncool Alarm.


During a recent idle hour on YouTube, I came across an item that therefore caused me no end of amazement. As part of their ongoing quest to bury the memory of the camp, sprightly little pop group who authored such pearls as Mr Brightside, The Killers were captured – on More 4's Live From Abbey Road – reverentially covering the Straits' aforementioned bit of Shakespearian wonderment, attempting to mimic the Knopf's self-taught finger-plucking genius (no chance), and talking about their distant childhood memories of that great music business behemoth, 1985's Brothers in Arms.Thus, I was reminded once again that cool no longer rules, and we are living through the tyranny of what might be called the New Wrong. A few examples: Sean Rowley's Guilty Pleasures franchise is expanding so fast that it will soon have to simply rename itself Pleasures. Its latest in-concert wheeze found the audience dancing to the consummate bilge of Toto's 1982 Africa, and specially-invited musicians covering songs by the likes of Bonnie Tyler, Neil Diamond and Electric Light Orchestra. Further down the age range, among music's current hot hopes are the supposedly cutting-edge Enter Shikari and a gang of Brummies called the Twang; their very different touchstones are the uber-wrong dance attraction Faithless and Joshua Tree/string vest-era U2. Whether we blame the government, the iPod, or the fall of the Berlin Wall, it's true: the Maoist certainties of yesteryear are gone forever.

Whether or not you agree with Harris' implication the Killers have achieved tastemaker status, how about the suggestion anyone should feel guility for liking Neil Diamond or ELO? Compared to Killers, anyway. 

Reunion Mania – Original Vocalists/Frontmen Need Not Apply


If the gullible general public are willing to tolerate AC/DC without Bon Scott and the Dead Kennedys without Jello Biafra, what's the big deal about the Jam reforming….sans Paul Weller?   From the Guardian's Alexis Petridis.

Should you wish, you can see The Jam, with new vocalist Russell Hastings, performing in May. The venues they're playing are some way off Wembley – their appearance at The High Rocks, Tunbridge Wells, represents something of a departure for a venue best-known for its Wednesday afternoon tea dance ("ballroom dancing with Peter Harvey, tea and cake, £6"). Nevertheless, it's clearly a step up for Rick Buckler, who last year was to be found drumming in a Jam tribute act called The Gift (from whence Russell Hastings has also sprung): "you could say that Paul Weller is a tribute band because he plays The Jam's songs live," he suggested at the time.

That seems a bit of a hopeful argument, but perhaps the kind of high-minded principles that Weller espouses are a luxury that a multi-millionaire rock star can afford, but his less successful former cohorts can't.You could argue that – ahem – this is the modern world, and that The Jam touring without Paul Weller fits with the current vogue for musical nostalgia, in which trifling matters like the absence or death of a key member aren't allowed to get in the way of making some cash or, apparently, audience enjoyment: after all, plenty of people are willing to go and see Queen live without Freddie Mercury, so why not The Jam without Weller.

Then again, twenty-five years ago, anyone who publicly suggested that The Jam had anything in common with Queen would have swiftly been kicked to the floor by several pairs of bowling shoes. After all, die hard fans will tell you that what made The Jam special was the fact that were about more than just the music. They were about fashion and politics and, yup, our old friend principles which, with the best will in the world, isn't something that anyone's going to claim of Queen.

With all due respect to Mr. Petridis, I'll happily suggest the Jam and Queen have all sorts of things in common.  Vox amplifiers for one, the crazed nostalgia addiction of their fans for another.

Parsefork: Your Music Taste By Number Just Got Easier

numbers.jpgShit.  With all those music web sites and blogs and stuff, with all their words and stuff, it gets hurt-your-head confusing which albums to download on OINK.  Finally, the too much time on their hands folks at Wolf-Notes have come up with a better way.  With Parsefork, you can look up and sort album reviews by label, rating, artist and author – skipping all the pesky words completely. (note: and something called standard deviation which sounds like measuring band backlash?) For instance, you can quickly find all the Hollywood distributed Kemado Records' artists who have scored above a 4.0 on Pitchfork or every Cactus album reviewed by TinyMixTapes.  The possibilities are endless.

Go ahead… leave all the words behind.


Award for Lifetime Achievement In Photoshop Masking Goes To…

….the Pitchfork photo editor.  Trust us.  No one knows better than the record label how hard it must be to book a Cat Power / Yoko Ono photoshoot.    First of all, you have all the Versace fittings for that little award show in a couple of weeks.  As for Yoko, even if you lock it down, finding a reliable ride to the shoot gets harder and harder with each blackmail letter.  So, it's with a deep level of empathy that we heap praise on Pitchfork for hiring The Daily Show's photoshop mask experts to make the impossible come true.   



Pitchfork's New Pitchcast: Indie Publicists Rejoice As Need For Screen Shot Software To Prove Exclusive MP3 WAS On Home Page Goes Bye-Bye.

DOUBLE ALBUM SHOWDOWN: TFUL 282’s Mother of All Saints and Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk.


Hello. Tusk has a few tracks that predate introspective, 90’s indie rock. That’s Buckingham checking in with “Walk a Thin Line”….the obscenely catchy ballad that sounds like Built To Spill. Mother of All Saints also looked to the future, albeit a future that has yet to occur. Indie rock, or tastemaker rock, or cool shit, or whatever you want to call it, in 2007, SHOULD sound like Mother of All Saints. It doesn’t. Tusk has the ye olde photo of a pesky, perhaps feral dog tearing away at some unlucky chump’s trouser leg. Mother of All Saints has some mouth action, too, but it could pass for a Naked City cover or a later, “mature” offering from Suffocation. It must be noted that Thinking Fellers collectively had a much better sense of humor than John Zorn. Despite being one of the greatest (and weirdest) mainstream pop records of the payola era, the public felt otherwise and Tusk unwittingly helped to destroy the music industry as it was known in 1979. Its “ambitious” recording budget and efficient, non-stop journey from warehouse to cutout bin almost bankrupted Warner Brothers, and led to an industry-wide contract genocide that effectively ended many of the “careers” that resulted from the AOR signing frenzy of ’76 – ’79 (1). When I was nineteen, Mother of All Saints really alienated and disturbed the soon to be vanquished jam band acquaintances (2) that remained lurking in the tiers of my eight-count friend circle. Christ on a crutch, you’d think I was writing a 33 1/3 here, with all of the petty, “aw, me” nostalgia.

  1. Which gave us the Babysitter Rock of 707, New England, Hotel, Sharks, Starz, Stank Business, Horselips, Starcastle, The Tarney-Spencer Band, and Trooper, bless their forgotten hearts.

2. Yes, jam banders existed in 1992. It was their choices that were few: Phish, Widespread Panic, Spin Doctors, and the Dead.